Why some FilAms won’t unmask…yet: ‘Doesn’t bother me’

From left: Monalie Arico, Grace Montalbo, and Rowena Inojales Garana

By Lindy Rosales

New York City woke up to a bright sunny Friday morning with news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given the green light that fully vaccinated people do not have to use their face masks in most indoor and outdoor settings.

As of May 16, 2021, 42.5 percent or 8,272,406 people in New York State have been fully vaccinated. While 51.8 percent or 10,068,056 people have had at least one dose.

Fully vaccinated means 14 days have passed since the second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. For the first dose of a Johnson and Johnson vaccine, it also means 14 days have passed since the first dose. These three vaccines are the only ones authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) for adults in the United States.

Filipino Americans have this to say:

“Personally, I still prefer to wear a mask considering my co-morbidities,” said Monalie Arico, a retired Registered Nurse who worked for the city of New York. “Even with some friends who are already vaccinated, I don’t know who they mingled with. Maybe if an event is an open area with minimal number of people ok na. Wearing a mask doesn’t bother me at all.”  

Grace Montalbo, a hemodialysis technician from Yonkers, said: “My family and I talked about it and we all agreed we should still wear masks. There is no way to know which person is vaccinated or not unless we are wearing badges that says the person is vaccinated. We managed to protect ourselves with masks for more than a year and it won’t hurt to wait or continue wearing it a little longer. In our facility we encourage our patients to still wear their masks outside, and most of them agree that we should still wear them.”

Rowena Inojales Garana, a New York City public school teacher who is currently working remotely but might soon go back to face-to-face instruction, said: “I will continue to wear my mask outside and inside the building because I don’t fully trust these politicized decisions.”

“I am skeptical about the CDC announcement for many reasons,” said Garana. “First, the U.S.  is still working on the target herd immunity, two, the virus is still out there, three, the vaccine effectivity is still in question and four, we should consider the density of the city or town. All these reasons make me skeptical.”

“I may be vaccinated but it’s no guarantee that all my students are,” she continued. “Nakakatakot ang decision na ito ng CDC kasi it is too early pa.”

For this writer, who also happens to be a nurse who works in a hospital, this decision by the CDC hits close to home. It will make no difference to me as I still have to use a face mask at work. But it makes life complicated as you navigate this new guideline outside. Do you trust the honor system that people who get rid of their masks are fully vaccinated? There are more questions than answers in this new guideline.

Three days after the CDC announcement, the NYS Governor is still reviewing it. The mask mandate has not yet been lifted in New York State even as the state announced its lowest positivity rate of 1 percent as of Saturday, May 15. As the first epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, it seems that New York is just being cautious.

© The FilAm 2021

Leave a Reply